“Ensign Darrin,” came the sharp rebuke,
“You have disobeyed the orders of Captain Gales, which were repeated by me just before we parted company. Did your fire hit any of the Mexicans?”
“I think we must have done so, sir,” Dave returned dryly. “Several of them lay down, at all events.”
“Any losses in your own command?” pressed Cantor.
“Two men killed and four wounded.”
“The consequences of disobedience of orders, sir!” cried Lieutenant Cantor, angrily. “Ensign Darrin, I am certain that you should not have been entrusted with the command of a launch.”
“That sounds like a reflection on the Captain’s judgment, sir!” Dave rejoined, rather warmly.
“No unnecessary remarks,” thundered Cantor. “I shall not place you in arrest, but on our return to the ship I shall report at once your flagrant disobedience of orders.”
Darrin did not answer, but the hot blood now surged to his head, suffusing his cheeks. He was deeply humiliated.
“Young man, if you call that good sense,” rumbled the deep voice of John Carmody, “then I don’t agree with you. You condemn Darrin-----”
“Who is speaking?” roared Lieutenant Cantor.
“My name is John Carmody,” returned the planter, coolly.
“Then be good enough to remain silent,” commanded Cantor.
“Since I’m on a government boat,” retorted the planter, “I suppose I may as well do as I’m ordered. But at some other time I shall air my opinion of you, young man, as freely as I please.”
Lieutenant Cantor bit his lips, then gave the order to proceed to the appointed rendezvous.
As Cantor’s launch neared Dalzell’s steamer, the lieutenant ordered a rocket sent up. From away over on the horizon an answering rocket was seen.
Forty minutes later the “Long Island” lay to close by. Cantor’s launch was the first to go in alongside.
“Were you successful?” hailed the voice of the executive officer from the bridge.
“Ensign Darrin was, sir,” Cantor replied, through the megaphone.
“Are all the missing Americans safe?”
“Yes, sir,” Cantor continued.
“And all our own men?”
“Two killed, sir, and four wounded, through what I believe to be disobedience of orders.”
Instructions came for Lieutenant Cantor’s launch to lay alongside. Soon after the men were on deck and the launch hoisted into place. Then, under orders, Darrin ran alongside. First of all his wounded men were passed on hoard, being there received by hospital stewards from the sick bay. Then, amid impressive silence, the two dead men were taken on board.
“Ensign Darrin,” directed the officer of the deck, from the bridge, “you are directed to report to Captain Gales, at once.”
Saluting, and holding himself very erect, Dave Darrin stepped proudly aboard. His face was white and angry as he neared the captain’s quarters, but the young ensign strove to command himself, and tried to keep his sorely tried temper within bounds.